Popular Store Manager Pleads Self Defense

Bail was set at $250,000 for a woman accused of shooting her boyfriend in Flanders September 5. Independent/Gordon M. Grant

A popular manager at the CVS Pharmacy on Pantigo Road in East Hampton was arraigned the morning of September 7 in Southampton Town Justice Court on two felony charges following the shooting of her boyfriend in their Flanders home two days earlier. Patchita Tennant, 42, is said to have fired three shots from a .38 caliber revolver into Andrew Silas Mitchell, 46. Two of the shots entered Mitchell’s chest cavity, collapsing his lungs and diaphragm, while the third shot struck his arm, said Eric Aboulafia, the prosecuting attorney, during the arraignment.

Mitchell was flown to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he is in stable condition.

Tennant was charged with two felonies, assault with a weapon with the intent to cause serious injury, and criminal discharge of a weapon.

Tennant fled the scene after the shooting, Aboulafia told the court. The shooting was first reported to police at 8:20 PM on September 5. When police arrived at the Pleasure Drive property, they reported that Mitchell was still conscious, and he told them that Tennant had pulled the trigger. The couple, who jointly purchased the house in 2015 for $450,000, according to online records, have a daughter, three-year-old Vanessa.

At about 7:20 the next morning, an Amber Alert was issued for the whereabouts of the child. Southampton Town Justice Barbara Wilson said that she had been awakened by the alert, which went out to cell phones across the area. Aboulafia asked Wilson to issue an order of protection for the child.

Tennant’s attorney, Austin Manghan, objected. He said during the arraignment that the alert and the police handling of it created an air of hysteria around Tennant, making her seem like an “armed and dangerous” mad woman. He said that the alerts “made my client look like a maniac.” One email sent out, for example, warned, “If anyone comes in contact with Tennant, use extreme caution.”

In fact, Manghan said, the child was not present when the shooting occurred. Manghan explained that Tennant’s niece had just arrived in town, on leave from the Air Force, and that his client had dropped the child off with a relative, planning a family get-together. Tennant returned home to get clothing to stay overnight.

The two sides dispute what happened next. The prosecuting attorney said that Tennant was in a jealous rage over a perceived affair by Mitchell. “The weapon belonged to the complainant,” meaning Mitchell, Manghan responded. “My client, before that evening, had never before seen a gun, let alone touched a gun.”

According to the prosecutor, Tennant was holding the gun, with Mitchell in a bathroom. “She began banging on the door,” Aboulafia said, and that Tennant shouted “I’m going to kill you, and I’m going to kill myself.”

After firing three shots, she left and drove to a nearby CVS, where she bought various items for travel, such as clothing, and a couple of cell phones, including a burner cell phone, which allows the caller to remain anonymous, the prosecutor said. Aboulafia asked that bail be set at $250,000. He said that the District Attorney’s office will be presenting the case in the coming days to a grand jury.

Manghan responded that Mitchell was holding the gun that the two struggled for. He said Mitchell grabbed her. “She was fighting for her life,” the attorney said, adding that’s when the gun went off. Tennant was not armed, and did not take the weapon with her. He said Tennant ran from Mitchell, who picked the gun up and tried to shoot her. “She is the victim in this case.”

He described his client as a “battered woman.”

Manghan said that his client surrendered peacefully after he spoke with her. He himself drove her to Southampton Town Police headquarters in Hampton Bays, where she turned herself in a little before noon September 6.

With the question of bail still being argued, Aboulafia said that, after her arrest, “the defendant was photographed from head to toe” by the police, and showed no injuries from a physical struggle, save for a scrapped knee. Police confiscated the clothing Tennant was wearing at the time of her arrest, possibly as evidence. Tennant faces 25 years if convicted on either felony, the prosecutor said.

Before setting bail at $250,000, with a bond alternative of $500,000, Wilson asked about the 12-plus people seated in the courtroom, aside from the reporters. Three were Tennant’s sisters, and a fourth woman was her niece, Wilson was told. There were also about eight or nine of Tennant’s fellow employees from the East Hampton CVS. “She is a manager at CVS for the last nine years and has been employed by the same CVS for the last 15 years,” Manghan said.

Afterward, the family members and most of Tennant’s co-workers declined to talk about their friend. However, one man, who would not give his name, said only that he was a “friend of the family,” and described a time when a woman the employees knew was homeless was repeatedly coming into the store. He said Tennant approached the woman and began talking with her. “She took money out of her own pocket and bought her living necessities,” he said. He called her a “caring person,” and said that Mitchell recently “had become more and more aggressive towards her.”

Manghan said afterward that Tennant’s friends at the CVS used to help her apply makeup before work to cover up bruises.

Tennant remained in custody as of Tuesday morning, September 10. By law, if not indicted by September 12, she would have to be released.

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